I would have thought that when Lily’s brain tumor was diagnosed, I would have realized that her time here was limited, come to terms with her inevitable death, and cried all I could cry. But denial is a powerful thing. Yes, I saw the tumor on the screen. Yes, I knew she had fallen over a few times, and wasn’t her true, normal self. The past few weeks though have been filled with so much love and fun times with Lily, taking her to parks, watching her wade around up north in the streams, and having her chase a ball or two in the back yard. We were so happy with her progress, that on Friday, the vet decided to try and dial down her dosage of the steroid she is on (prednisone). So instead of the 1 1/2 tablets she was getting, he wanted to try and just give her one per day.
At first, it was like Lily was almost 100% back. She was trotting, playing, and even barking at us again when we got to rowdy playing in the living room :) It was different than her normal bark, but still, it showed her spirit was still there. She even flipped over for a belly rub ;) We were riding high seeing her so happy, and it gave me huge optimism that she might last longer than everyone originally thought.
We woke up Wednesday morning to our dreams crashing down. Lily had declined so rapidly overnight, that she couldn’t even stand. When she tried, she fell, her head tilted, and her eyes looked like she had spun in circles too many times and couldn’t focus. It was awful. I immediately started crying. Ben saw my tears, and came over and in his sweet little voice told me not to be sad, and kissed my cheek. I love that kid. I pulled myself together, and waited for the vet to return my phone call. Joe announced he would stay home with her for as long as he could, until we had instructions on what else to do. We hand fed her some food (her lab appetite never quits), and I left to drop off Ben at school.
Waiting at work, the vet finally returned my phone call and told me to give her an extra dose of prednisone, but warned me that unfortunately, she’s progressing as we all knew she inevitably would, and the double dose of meds might not be enough to bring her back. I broke down at work, and finally had to excuse myself to come home. We made an appointment to bring her in the next morning, and in my head, I thought it was an appointment to say goodbye.
By the time I picked up Ben from school, and Joe had returned to work, Lily was miraculously standing, without falling over. Her eyes were back to normal, and she seemed wobbly, but mostly stable. I couldn’t believe it. In the same amount of time that she had declined, she had just as quickly recovered. She was tired, but could at last rest.
So at the checkup the next morning, the vet was happy to see that she had improved, but again warned us that another relapse was inevitable. It could be days or weeks, but she will eventually have another horrible episode, if not worse, than we saw on Wednesday. We discussed surgery, but with the recovery being so hard, and her extended quality of life being poor and limited, we opted not to pursue that option.
Later that day, I took Lily outside for a few more photos. The sun was shining, and Lily was smiling and enjoying the slight chill in the air. My heart is so heavy with sadness at the thought that our goodbye is coming so soon, but it’s also so, so thankful that I get a little more time with her, to show her how much we love her.
Our plan is to take it day by day, be thankful for every extra day we get to spend with her, and understand that her next episode means that it’s finally time to say goodbye. It will be one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but it’s all we can do, to ease her suffering.
Love you, Lily.
Ben is 3 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days old